While Danny Boyle’s 2002 post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later may not have introduced the world to fast zombies (Lifeforce or Return of the Living Dead, both from 1985 have their proponents, although there is debate over even these), it certainly was a much needed injection into the genre, redefining how audiences would come to view the living dead as a species. Not only did the surreal, almost dreamlike movie help to revive the zombie as major film protagonists once more, it spawned numerous films that borrowed the idea of the super-charged flesh-eaters, entirely distinct from their fictionalized on-screen origins. While not technically zombies, the infected in 28 Days Later possess most of the boilerplate traits that fans of the genre came to expect: mindlessness, hatred of the living and infection by biting. And just like any true zombie film, the ultimate villains of 28 Days Later ended up not being the infected at all, but mankind itself. While Dungeons and Dragons has always had its zombies, the Infected stand apart from their more tame D&D counterparts.
Conversion. Infected are largely zombies at heart, however they are as the film depicts them, much stronger and faster opponents than your typical walking dead. In 28 Days, the most notable difference between them and traditional zombies are their speed, often being able to outrun people fleeing for their lives. They also seem heedless of damage and danger due to their diminished mental capabilities, although doors, fortified walls and staircases or ladders are not impossible to overcome. Their biggest threat is in their blood and body fluids, making them especially deadly which makes them even tougher opponents than a standard zombie, hence a huge increase in their challenge rating. While a party with a cleric may easily cure an infected, or two, it’s unlikely that even a well-prepared low-tier party would be able to last long against a few of these creatures.